Buchholz team advances to international math finals

A Buchholz High School team advanced to the MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge finals following a March online competition.
Courtesy of Alachua County Public Schools

A group of Buchholz High School students recently advanced to the finals in the international MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge.

According to an Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) release, the Buchholz team participated for 14 straight hours in early March in an international online math modeling competition. The team was selected as one of the top groups that had the best solution to questions focusing on the predicted growth of e-bike use and its impacts on society.

Buchholz is one of six finalist teams that will be receiving scholarship awards ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. The winning team will receive $20,000.

Become A Member

Mainstreet does not have a paywall, but pavement-pounding journalism is not free. Join your neighbors who make this vital work possible.

The team consisted of Himal Bamzai-Wokhlu, Nicholas Dang, Nolan Gao, Melissa Li, and Nathan Wei of Gainesville. They were one of the eight finalist teams in MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge (M3 Challenge), a competition that attracted nearly 3,000 11th and 12th graders in the U.S. and from students in the U.K.

The team advanced through the first two rounds of the competition after judges examined their work. The group has one more hurdle on April 24 when a panel of professional mathematicians will validate the team’s findings.

The team had to come up with a solution – using mathematical modeling – to the following real-world questions:

  • How many e-bikes will be sold in the next two years?
  • Of the many factors that contribute to e-bike use and sales growth, which are most significant?
  • For a given country or region, can we quantify the impact that e-bike use has on carbon emissions, traffic congestion, or other key factors? 

According to the release, “a total of 650 teams submitted papers detailing their recommendations. Roughly 45% of those submissions included technical computing to support and enhance their solutions, and those coding skills make them eligible for additional scholarship prizes.”

M3 Challenge, in its 18th year, is a program of Philadelphia-based Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) sponsored by MathWorks. The program features applied mathematics and uses it as a problem-solving tool while motivating students to consider careers and further education in technical computing, computational and data sciences and applied math.

“News feeds, magazines, and everyday discussions seem to be filled with talk of ‘the future of the automobile,’” M3 Challenge judge and lead problem developer Neil Nicholson from the University of Notre Dame said in the press release. “In the past couple years, though, the rise in popularity of smaller electric personal transportation devices has somewhat changed the conversation.

“While these changes can be meaningful at the individual level, they also are shaping larger scale policy-related questions. It is really interesting to see how the modelers attacked these questions, because understanding how the past influences the future will surely provide insight into these big real-world issues.”

Buchholz joins the other finalist teams from schools in Alexandria, Virginia; Berwyn, Pennsylvania; Houston, Texas; Lincolnshire, Illinois; Lincroft, New Jersey; London, England; and Mason, Ohio.

“This was a great opportunity to apply more abstracted, fragmented learning from individual school subjects in a comprehensive manner,” Buchholz teacher-coach Ziwei Lu said in the press release.

Team member Bamzai-Wokhlu found M3 Challenge to be an exciting, worthwhile math experience.

“Our team found it rewarding to take a multidisciplinary approach to a real-world problem,” he said. “We combined team members’ skill sets in mathematics, computer programming, and economics to develop comprehensive models. Under the duress of a 14-hour ticking time bomb, the think-tank experience was exhilarating.”

For more information about M3 Challenge, visit m3challenge.siam.org.

To access this year’s challenge problem, visit https://m3challenge.siam.org/practice-problems/2023-problem-ride-wind-without-getting-winded-growth-e-bike-use.  

To see the full list of finalist, semi-finalist, and honorable mention teams, visit https://m3challenge.siam.org/node/608.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments